Artillery Row

A year of Black Wednesdays?

The CRG deputy chairman on the longterm Lockdown risks

I regard the arithmetic in the Commons overwhelmingly in favour of lockdown as a foregone conclusion. With vaccines rolling out and cases soaring, of course the situation is new. And Labour are forever in favour of authoritarian interventions. That’s why in the short term the Covid Recovery Group is focussed on restoring our liberties, our prosperity and normal social life through the vaccine.

In the longer term, I fear our party will find these actions are toxic, corrosive and long-remembered by people who have lost not only family and friends through non-Covid causes but also livelihoods, homes and future prospects.

I well remember sounding the alarm over the Durham incident and being told I was wrong. That it was a Westminster Bubble story. But I was right.

Everyone can now see that episode had cut through and did lasting reputational harm. In one focus group, all the ex-Labour voters recognised Dominic Cummings but only two could name the leader of the Labour party.

Today, I fear the Parliamentary consensus for lockdown is doing much the same damage. What this lockdown says about our values is not as dramatic, but if anything it is slow burning and even more consequential.

Let us not be deluded by public opinion polls supporting radical lockdowns with near soviet levels of business intervention and public funding. That is not Conservative support speaking. And when the price comes to be paid for what we are doing now, they will not be with us in either the polls or ballot boxes.

That’s why it is vital Boris Johnson delivers a clear plan to restore our freedoms in full and fast.

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